The next steps for autonomous trucks

The next steps for autonomous trucks

What’s next for autonomous trucks, and where do we stand?

The industry has been buzzing about autonomous trucking for years, but we’ve never seen so much concrete proof that this ambitious concept is on the way than we have so far in 2024.

In May, Daimler Truck announced an autonomous Freightliner eCascadia technology demonstrator, combining battery electric drive and integrated autonomous driving technology into one truck. The truck is based on a production BEV Freightliner eCascadia and is equipped with autonomous driving software from Torc Robotics and Level 4 sensor and compute technology.

Later in that same month, Volvo introduced its first-ever autonomous truck, built on the new VNL and developed with Aurora.

Autonomous trucks are being tested in states from Texas to Pennsylvania, with driverless routes racking up thousands and thousands of miles.

But there are a lot, and I mean a lot, more steps to go before we’ll see autonomous trucks on our roadways. There’s the question of regulation—we don’t know what kinds of regulations there will be on autonomous trucks or cars, because no one’s ever had to regulate autonomous vehicles before. There’s also the question of public acceptance: Part of the appeal of autonomous vehicles is the idea that they will get into fewer accidents thanks to the lack of human error. But as we’ve seen with some incidents involving autonomous cars, the public is far less trusting of mistakes made by machines than those by humans, which we’re used to.

So what’s next for autonomous trucks, and where do we stand?

For answers to these questions, I talked to Andrew Culhane, chief commercial officer at Torc Robotics, at the recent ACT Expo. See why he says 2027 is the date they’ve circled for bringing autonomous trucks to market, and why the hard work comes in the next three years leading up to that.

Fleet Equipment’s On The Road is sponsored by Noregon. Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every episode as we dive into the best practices and servicing information to keep your trucks On The Road.

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